The same God who created the universe, you, and even little old me, also created all we need to sustain us against the things that can harm us.
The escalating panic around a pandemic of the novel Coronavirus – aka COVID-19 – out of China brings to mind the story of the dyslexic agnostic insomniac who would lie awake nights wondering if there is a dog.
Here is a basic scientific fact: If it can’t get into your body, it’s can’t infect you.
So, hoarding Campbell soups, flashlight batteries, and other survival items may be a bit premature. Instead, let’s look to rational prevention while we wait for a cure.
Our bodies have two prophylactics that are designed to prevent viral infections: the skin and mucus.
We’re going to discuss disgusting mucus? In a word, yes.
The consequences of punctured skin are all too obvious. Big hole = bleed to death. Also, any hole = aperture for macrobiotic intrusions. With this fear out of the way, let’s move on to something about which you little know: mucus.
What is mucus? Hundreds of website postings describe it as something undesirable. Hundreds, if not thousands more websites, tell you how to get rid of it. After you read to the end, I hope you will see mucus as your friend, not an enemy. Tears are a form of mucus as is saliva.
Mucus is a protective substance that’s excreted from multiple areas of the body, such as the mouth, sinuses, throat, lungs, stomach, and intestines (Figure 1). Mucus itself consists of multiple constituents, but its major component is a substance called mucin. The mucins in mucus can work as a selective barrier, lubricant, or viscous material depending on their structure. When mucin structure and production is normal, mucus protects surfaces all over our body, which helps us live alongside many different microbes. However, disease can ensue when mucin structure and production are abnormal.Harvard Medical School | All About That Mucus: How it keeps us healthy
Do take note of the shape of the mucins. Do they not resemble snares of some sort?
How Mucus Shield Us From Infectious Microbes
Mucus covers the moist surfaces of the human body, including the eyes, nostrils, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract. In fact, the average person makes more than a liter of mucus each day! It houses trillions of microbes and serves as a first line of defense against the subset of those microorganisms that cause infections. For these reasons, NIH-funded researchers, led by Katharina Ribbeck, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, are out to gain a greater understanding of the biology of healthy mucus—and then possibly use that knowledge to develop new therapeutics.National Institute of Health Director’s Blog 12/19/2019 | How Mucus Tames Microbes
Reduced or missing mucus – dry eyes, dry mouth, dry sinus – provides an easy condition for infectious microbes to make themselves at home in your body.
Is it possible to have too much of a good thing, too much mucus? Yes, but that’s a topic for another time.
Hands Off! – Keeping COVID-19 At Bay
The chief way the novel coronavirus infects us is by way of the hands touching the face.
Our hands make contact with surfaces upon which all manner of infectious microbes land – door knobs, furniture, cell phones, etc.
We all do it – pick the nose, scratch an itch, clear tears from the eyes, touch our mouths.
- Thoroughly and frequently wash hands. The Centers for Disease Control says clean hands save lives.
- Avoid people who are sneezing, coughing, and not covering their mouths and noses when doing so. You can be easily infected by the droplets produced from sneezes and coughs with a six-foot radius.
- Use a humidifier to maintain space relative humidity between 40% and 60%. Why? In each nostril are three sets of turbinates which are also called nasal concha or conchae (plural), shell-shaped networks of bones, vessels, and tissue within the nasal passageways.These structures are responsible for warming, humidifying, and filtering the air we breathe. In cold weather, the indoor air naturally becomes dry and can cause the turbinates to crack just as fingertips and lips do under low relative humidity conditions, evidenced by nose bleeds and/or bloody mucus in your hanky or facial tissue. Mucus production cannot keep up under too-low relative humidity.
This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice.